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How to Handle Credit Card Accounts After a Death

Closing credit cards after someone dies is one of the many tasks you’ll be faced with as an executor or appointed representative of someone’s estate. Closing any open lines of credit and credit cards will help you wrap up important logistical tasks and prevent any unwanted payments from going through or someone from using a deceased person’s credit card.

What happens to credit card debt when you die?

The estate is responsible for paying off credit cards after a death, in addition to any other money owed. In general, there are two types of debt one can owe: unsecured debt and secured debt. Secured debt is debt that is backed by collateral, meaning, if you don’t pay off the debt, the lender can go after assets. Unsecured debt means that the debt will not be paid off if the estate can’t cover the cost of the debt – they can’t go after assets. Credit card debt is considered unsecured debt and will not be paid off if the estate can’t cover the cost.

Is there credit card debt forgiveness after a death?

If the estate is unable to pay the credit card debt after you die, the credit card company will have no choice but to forgive the debt and write it off.

Who is responsible for paying credit card debt after death?

The estate is responsible for paying off credit card debt after you pass away. If you end up in a position where you owe more money than the estate has assets (to dissolve and use to pay off debts), the estate is considered insolvent. At this point, the responsibility would fall to any joint account holder that’s on your credit card. If you applied for a credit card or credit line with a cosigner, co-borrower, or a spouse, they would be responsible for paying off the credit balance.

If you live in a community property state, your spouse is typically responsible for paying off credit card debt. You’ll want to check with an attorney and the state’s laws to see if this is the case if you live in one of the following community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

How to cancel credit cards after death

If you’re responsible for handling an estate or your loved one’s affairs after they pass away, here’s how to close a credit card at a major credit card company. In most cases, you’ll want to gather documentation, contact support, and ask that they close the credit card account. Depending on the company, they may ask that you submit a letter to the credit card company after the death or that you submit the contents by email or in person.

Visa

Call customer service at 1-800-847-2911 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

Capital One

  1. Call 1-877-383-4802 between 9-11 EST to get a case number. You'll receive a cover sheet and a packet via email within a few days of making this call. Once you've received the case number and cover sheet, you can submit your documents through fax or email.
  2. Submit your documents.

  3. Email: bankestateoperations@capitalone.com

  4. Fax: 1-855-786-2690
  5. Mail (fax or email is quickest):

Capital One
PO Box 360
Wilmington, DE 19899
(Submit only copies, they will not return any originals to you.)

Note: When submitting documents, be sure to attach the cover sheet that was emailed to you. If you're submitting documentation via email, include the documentation as attachments and ensure the subject line includes the case number you were assigned.

For most estates, here's the documentation you’ll need to submit:

  • A death certificate copy
  • If you're an executor, a copy of a court-official 'Letter of Administration' or 'Letters of Testamentary', dated within the last 2 years
  • Depending on your state guidelines, you may need just a notarized Small Estate Affidavit or an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property
  • A copy of the Letter of Instruction for each beneficiary and/or executor
  • Co-executors can send in a single Letter of Instruction, if they want to, must be signed by both parties
  • A copy of a piece of government-issued identification for all executors and/or beneficiaries

Mastercard

Call customer service at 1 (800) 307-7309 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

Citibank

Call customer service at 1-888-248-4226 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

Chase

You should to visit Chase’s Estate Settlements page to see a full list of required documentation before getting in touch and to understand more about Chase’s credit card death policy.

  1. Notify Chase of the passing by calling the Client Service Center at 1-800-392-5749 option 1 or go to a local branch.
  2. Confirm that you can receive information related to the individual's assets. Only certain authorized individuals are able to receive information, such as beneficiaries and executors or estate administrators.
  3. Review Chase's account table to determine the type of account held by the deceased and identify the type of documentation that's required.
  4. Obtain the listed documentation and fax all documentation to 1-855-605-0487.

American Express

Call customer service at 1-800-266-7064 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You need to be authorized to act on behalf of the decedent (as in, you're an Executor or Administrator of the estate). You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

Bank of America

  1. Notify Bank of America of the passing. Once they're notified, you'll receive a case number and will have a specialist assigned to your case.
  2. Send a copy of the death certificate, plus any additional required documentation that your state law requires.
  3. The specialist will review the documentation and get back to you if any additional documentation is required.

You can also contact Estate Servicing at 888-689-4466 (Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-8 p.m. ET).

Documentation you'll need:

  • Personal information. The full legal name and Social Security number of the decedent.
  • Death certificate.

You may also need to provide:

  • Small Estate Affidavit.
  • Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary.

Discover

Call Deceased Account Services Specialists at 1-800-347-5519 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You need to be authorized to act on behalf of the decedent (as in, you're an Executor or Administrator of the estate). You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

Synchrony

Call customer service at 1-866-226-5638 and provide them with the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their bank account numbers
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • A copy of the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary
  • If the decedent was a New Jersey resident, Form L-8 or Tax Waiver
  • An Estate Distribution Form, signed by all executors, requesting a check

Wells Fargo

  1. Get a death certificate and gather information (you’ll need to know the person’s full legal name and their social security number)
  2. Notify them in one of the following ways:

  3. Online (you’ll need a Well's Fargo username and password) here.

  4. By mail: Close or transition deposit accounts by sending a notarized Letter of Instruction

Wells Fargo Exception Payments
Attn: Estate Processing
7711 Plantation Road, 1st Floor
Roanoke, VA 24019

  • In person: Take the required documents to [an in person appointment] (https://appointments.wellsfargo.com/maa/appointment/topic). For investment accounts, take the documents to the customer’s dedicated financial advisor.

You need the following types of documents:

Individual accounts - Court-issued document appointing an executor/administrator or - Small estate affidavit in accordance with state laws Jointly-held accounts, or accounts with named beneficiaries

  • Identification of the joint account holder or beneficiaries Trust accounts

  • Certificate of Trust naming a successor trustee

Barclays

Call customer service at 1-888-710-8756 for more information on how to close the account after a death. You will likely need the following information:

  • The full name of the person on the account
  • Their account number
  • Date of death
  • Last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number

US Bank

  1. Visit a local branch or call 800-872-2657
  2. Gather documents:

  3. Proof of death (Original or certified copies of the death certificate)

  4. Account information (examples: outstanding U.S. Bank bills, past statements or letters)

You'll also need documents that show who has authority to act on behalf of your loved one's affairs, estate or trust. Examples:

  • Probate documentation
  • Small estate affidavit/Collection of personal property
  • Executor paperwork
  • Representative paperwork
  • Letters of testamentary
  • Trust documents

You may also need:

  • Valid ID (one of the following)
  • State driver's license
  • State ID card
  • U.S. passport
  • Military ID
  • U.S. alien registration card

PNC Bank

  1. Call customer service at 1 (888) 762-2265 and ask what kind of documentation is needed to close the credit card.
  2. Collect the required documentation (you will likely need a certified copy of the death certificate, documentation showing you are the executor or an authorized person in regards to the death, and proof of your own identity, such as a license)
  3. Write a letter of instruction to the bank notifying them of what to do with the funds in the account.
  4. Or visit a PNC bank branch in person to close the account.

Sample letter to cancel credit card due to death

Here’s a template you can send out to credit card companies following a death if they request that you submit a letter.

[Date]
[Your full name]
[Your mailing address]

Dear [Name of credit card company],

I am writing to inform you of the death of [full name]. My name is [full name] and I am the deceased's [state your relationship]. I am the [executor/administrator/legal authority] regarding [decedent's first name] affairs. I have included documentation showing this relationship. I am requesting that [his/her/their] file be updated, the credit card account be closed and that their death be listed in their file. Here is [his/her] information:

Name: [Their full name]
Date of birth: [date]
Social Security Number: [Number]
Address: [Address]
Date of death: [date]

I have enclosed a copy of the death certificate. Thank you for your help. If you need to contact me, please call me at [phone number] or email me at [email].

Best,
[Your name]

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Last updated January 13, 2022
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